Wednesday, September 12, 2012

1st Family Casualty: C.S.A. Private John S. Skinner, my 1st cousin 4x removed

The first casualty of the Civil War that affected my family was the death of Private John S. Skinner in the defense of Fort Hatteras in August of 1861. 

John S. Skinner was born in Perquimans County in 1837.  He enlisted in  Company I, North Carolina 17th Infantry Regiment, on July 30, 1861.  The original designation of this regiment had been the NC 7th Volunteer Regiment, but due to North Carolina raising both Volunteer and Official regiments, all original Volunteer regiments were re designated to include a 1 before their single digit "volunteer"

Unfortunately for John, his first muster roll would also be his last.  He was killed in one of the conflict's first engagements, The Battle of Hatteras Inlet. 

By the time this Muster Roll was recorded, John had already been killed in action

The Battle of Hatteras Inlet is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Forts Hatteras and Clark.  Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark were about one mile in distance from each other.  On August 28, 1861 these Forts were attacked by a Federal amphibious assault.  The ill-equipped and undermanned Forts faced bombardment from seven Union warships. 

Union Bombardment of Fort Hatteras

The Confederate forces were outmatched and faced a difficult decision.   Although initially the casualties were light, lack of supplies and man power prevented the Confederates from attempting any type of counter attack.   John S. Skinner would be counted as one of these "light casualties".   Various sources indicate the number of casualties was somewhere between 4 and 7 killed and 20 - 45 wounded.  On the second day of the attack the Confederate defenders chose not to continue the one-sided affair.  The Confederates surrendered to Union General Benjamin Butler on August 29, 1861.  The official list of Confederate prisoners taken included 691 names. 

Union forces in command of Fort Hatteras

Although in the grand scheme of things, this was considered a minor engagement, the Battle of Hatteras Inlet was the first significant victory for the Union.  This victory eased the Union's embarrassment of the previous month's defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run also known as First Manassas.  Confederate forces attempted to regain the Forts Hatteras and Clark in the fall of 1862.  This attempt was unsuccessful.   The inlet remained controlled by Union forces for duration of the war.   The Union's occupation of the inlet severely affected Confederate shipping and commerce. 

A rare Civil War-time view of Fort Hatteras

John S. Skinner died in August of 1861 defending Fort Hatteras.   His burial location is unknown at the time of this entry. 

Here's my relation to John:

John S. Skinner (1837 - 1861)
is your 1st cousin 4x removed
Margaret Simpson Skinner (1816 - 1880)
Mother of John S.
Exum Simpson (1773 - 1844)
Father of Margaret
George W. Simpson (1825 - 1879)
Son of Exum
Margaret B. Simpson (1858 - 1898)
Daughter of George W.
Joseph Warren Nowell (1889 - 1954)
Son of Margaret B.
Ruth Adelaide Nowell Stokes (1918 - )
Daughter of Joseph Warren
Selby Edward "Stokey" Stokes Jr. (1946 - )
Son of Ruth Adelaide
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Selby

It's not Civil War related, but it's an interesting fact about John's grandfather, Exum Simpson.  Exum was the owner of two slaves involved Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion.   Below is an excerpt taken from the Chowan County Slave Records: Criminal Actions Concerning Slaves 1830-1844, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

"Nineteen Chowan County slaves were arrested and questioned after reports an informant, Small's Jim, had revealed the existence of a local insurrectionary plot and named over a dozen involved. Edenton Gazette, 7 Sept 1831. Those arrested included slaves Isaac and Nat (belonging to William Smith); Peter (John Felton, Sr.); Siah or Josiah and Ned (Exum Simpson); Harry (John Bonner); Isaac (Joseah Spivey); Peter (Moses Burke); Moses (John Cox); Godfrey, Randolph, Dave and Washington (Charles E. Johnson); Catoe (E.S. Waff); Sandy (Richard T. Brownrigg); and Ben (Myles Welch).

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